By Saul Landau
“America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America…” – President George W. Bush, Sept 11, 2001
Our government preaches to the world about America’s special righteousness (brightest beacon for freedom) and inherent virtue. Washington claims to have developed a political system, in which the rule of law actually rules, where rich people get treated just like the poor, and all this takes place under an atmosphere in which human rights receive full respect and democracy gets practiced. Yet, each day, the media also reminds us that the U.S. government holds 166 prisoners in the Guantanamo Naval Base, in Cuba, leased against Cuba’s will under the threat of force. At this base, U.S. troops guard and torture prisoners without charges against them, men without rights to have attorneys, or enjoy any semblance of the rule of law or human rights.
Indeed, the Bush and Cheney White House authorized torture for these prisoners. Bush claimed the 9/11 attack resulted from our being “the brightest beacon for freedom,” but it was U.S. policy then and now that produces enemies. In addition, by behaving so crudely and cruelly in Guantanamo (routine torture), the United States has given the nation and even hypocrisy itself a bad name. But the curse of the U.S.-developed double standards practice doesn’t end there. Obama, in the name of defense, has authorized the use of… drones to murder people around the world, a power from some mystical executive authority not made clear in law or Constitution. This practice has multiplied our enemies.
Simultaneously, Obama has procrastinated over a U.S. response to the possibility that Bashar al Assad’s government may have used chemical weapons against his opponents in Syria. Ironically, Washington has yet to even apologize, much less compensate, to Vietnam for the massive amount of the chemical Agent Orange and other no nos dropped on that country during our little war there. According to the Vietnam Red Cross, “as many as 3 million Vietnamese people have been affected by Agent Orange, including at least 150,000 children born with birth defects.” The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said some “4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects. Women had higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirths, as did livestock such as cattle, water buffalo, and pigs.”
Washington promises heavy punishment for Iran if it persists in trying to make a nuclear weapon; yet we retain the largest stockpile of those monsters and stand out as the only country that has ever used them – and against civilian targets in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One more nuclear nation does add to world peril, but someone should clarify our position before we engage in another war over dubious moral standards.
Our self-promoted electoral system also has recently shown its flaws. It does not demand a vote recount, the Supreme Court decided in Gore v Bush, in the case of the 2000 Florida vote, and state Republicans routinely find ways of erasing potential Democratic voters from the lists of voters.
In 1945, the United States, one should recall, insisted on having war crimes trials after World War II, and indeed, established laws based on those Nuremberg experiences. If you see a war crime you should report it.
Private Bradley Manning did just that when he released the military video of a U.S. helicopter gunship crew whacking civilians on an Iraqi street. Instead of calling him a good citizen if not a downright hero, the government charged Manning and unleashed a vicious attack on him (he could receive a life sentence) for revealing U.S. military secrets (crimes).
Much of the world now does not take seriously the righteous claims made by U.S. officials. When eleven children died in a recent U.S. bombing in Afghanistan a reporter asked whether this was an act of terrorism. The State Department spokesman could not give a coherent answer.
The rhetoric from U.S. officials appears to warn all potentially disobedient nations: “Do as we say, not as we do.”
“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” Teddy Roosevelt once advised. But those leaders who followed him in office have often spoken loudly and wielded a bid stick at the same time. U.S. Presidents initiated wars in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve triumphed only in the arenas where no one fought back, and done less than perfectly where resistance appeared.
The USA got born as an anti-imperial nation that ironically then built an empire between the Atlantic and Pacific and from there to other parts of the world where our corporations make large profits and our military bases house troops and weapons of mass destruction.
Maybe it’s time to rethink the boasting and bragging and stationing of imperial outposts in places where we multiply our enemies! Washington could take the lead in calling on all nations to begin destroying nuclear stockpiles and not making more of such weapons. Others might actually follow our lead toward making a safer, more secure world. Or am I dreaming?
Saul Landau’s FIDEL and WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP are on DVD from cinemalibrestudio.com.
Taked from Progreso Semanal